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Bacon, Bulimia, and Bedouins: Sundance Through a Jewish Lens

The Sundance Film Festival recently wrapped, and an Israeli director took home a Grand Jury prize

by
Rose Kaplan
February 02, 2016
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Anthony Weiner meets with people on a street corner in Harlem in New York City during his run for mayor, September 10, 2013. Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The 2016 Sundance Film Festival wrapped last week, and a film on the lives of Bedouin women in Israel took home a top prize.

Sand Storm, directed by Elite Zexer, an Israeli Jewish woman, won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for its depiction of women in a Bedouin community balancing family, tradition, and independence. Here’s a description of the film:

As wedding festivities get underway in a Bedouin village in Israel, Jalila finds herself in the awkward position of hosting her husband Suliman’s marriage to a second, much younger wife. During the celebration, Jalila stumbles across eldest daughter Layla’s involvement with a boy from her university—a strictly forbidden liaison that would shame the family. Burying the indignity of Suliman and his new bride living next door, Jalila also tries to contain Layla’s situation by clamping down on her. But younger and possessed of a boundless spirit, Layla sees a different life for herself.

Sundance also awarded documentarian Josh Kriegman a U.S. Grand Jury Prize for his film Weiner, about Anthony Weiner’s New York City mayoral campaign in 2013; and Toronto animator/filmmaker Sol Friedman a Short Film Jury Award for Bacon and God’s Wrath, a short experimental documentary about a 90-year-old Jewish woman preparing to eat bacon for the first time. Here’s an excerpt from the doc:

Other films by and about Jews also screened at the festival. James Schamus’s directorial debut Indignation is an adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel of the same name, about a Jewish college student transferring to a Christian college to escape his kosher-butcher father; Israeli director Shimon Dotan’s The Settlers is a documentary on Jewish settlers in the West Bank; and Jessie Kahnweiler’s The Skinny is a new, darkly comedic web series about living with bulimia, viewed through a Jewish feminist lens.

It might be months before some of these projects make their ways to your screen or local theater. In the meantime, you can catch up on the rest of this year’s winners by watching the festival award ceremony, hosted by Maori-Jewish filmmaker Taika Waititi, on Sundance’s YouTube channel.

Rose Kaplan is an intern at Tablet.

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